This study investigates the relationship between social learning and perceived realism in the context of an entertainment media text, the 2015 movie San Andreas. As a fictional natural disaster movie, this film depicts several safety and survival techniques that could potentially be observed and adopted by audience members should they face a similar situation (i.e. major earthquake). While the majority of these techniques align with professionally recommended behaviors, a few are misleading. This study investigates the perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions different groups of audience members hold concerning the behaviors they observed in the film. Participants were grouped by geologically-based knowledge levels and levels of perceived realism. While the findings of this study reveal minimal differences based on knowledge and perceived realism, results clearly show that the film triggered high levels of curiosity and thinking about earthquakes and earthquake safety across the board. Furthermore, all audience members appeared to be persuaded on both a conscious and even more so on a subconscious level to behave as the characters in the film did, assuming the consequences of those actions were positive. These findings suggest that entertainment media texts can be a powerful educational and persuasive tool.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Communications
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Seipel, Melissa, "Natural Disaster Films: A Social Learning and Perceived Realism Perspective" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6798.
natural disaster films, social learning, perceived realism, persuasion